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Boys’ hoops ready for title battle

By Devin Prasad
In their first game of the season, Prospect outmatched MSL east opponent, Conant, by one. Since then both teams have matured and found success in their individual conference (Prospect 8-2, Conant 9-1). Tonight they face off again, only this time with higher stakes, an MSL title. Prospect came within 3 points of the title in 2013 and 2014, and won it last in 2011. Conant has not won a title since 2009.
Head coach John Camardella feels the first win against Conant means nothing now, as both teams have changed. Conant has experience the rise of junior Jimmy Sotos, who Camardella feels is the best point guard in the league, as well as other sophomores on the team. Out of Prospect, Frankie Mack, Matt Szuba, and David Swedura have emerged as team leaders, and have all been named to the all-conference team. Out of the six all conference players on Prospect and Conant, not a single one is a senior. Before the season many outsiders felt that Conant and Prospect were both a year away from contention, however, both teams have silenced critics. Camardella gives much of the credit to the way older players handled the situation this year.
“We have had really selfless seniors who understand the skill of the underclassmen,” Camardella said. “A lot of of teams could have had conflict with so much time going to the youngins. [At Prospect] the seniors are supportive and understanding, and they realize what the juniors have been able to do.”
Going into tonight’s game, Prospect’s main goal is to lock down Sotos. Camardella explained that the team with be playing junior Grant Whitebloom on Sotos. They will be giving him a step between the half court line and NBA three point line so he is not able to break past the defender immediately. Once he comes inside the perimeter, the defense will pressure him.
Another thing the team has worked on defensively is finding ways to lock down on Conant’s 6’9” and 6’8” big men down low. Conant is the biggest team Prospect will face all year, so they look to rotate in a way that will keep the big men contained. The team will also have to work to prevent Conant from getting offensive rebounds and second chance points.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Knights are going into the game unsure of what defense they will be up against. According to senior Scott Baackes, Conant will either play a 1-2-2 or man defense. Prospect worked on both recently to ensure their confidence against both defense.
Baackes feels the Knight’s can come away with a title if they are able to shoot well from the perimeter, limit offensive rebounds, and prevent Sotos from getting out on the break. He believes that much of that scouting came from the first game.
“Having played them already helped us a lot with scout purposes because we know what works and what doesn’t work,” Baackes said. “We have a feel of what they do on offense and defense.”